Honest, preschool, tiny human teacher

The other b word.

Fun fact ahead: I have an almost masters. I finished most of the components of a Masters in Leadership with an emphasis in spirituality.

I started the masters at a time in my life where I was desperate for something new but didn’t know what I wanted in my life. I was on a higher dosage anti-depressants that had at first just wanted me to be all done with everything and even though I was slowly learning through therapy- I didn’t really know how to feel better.

I had been working since with kids full time for only about two and a half years (little did i know). But between family illness and mental illness and volunteering and working in more than one place, I was running out of steam incredibly fast.

And I am going to be honest-back then I very much hesitated to say I was tired or busy or depressed.

I just would shut down when I was in a place that I didn’t have to people. I would go numb.

I didn’t have space for my own emotions or to say no to people around me. And I didn’t know who the hell I was.

So being in a masters program that involved pastoral leadership was a great choice.

(That was sarcasm).

Now even though I didn’t finish, it wasn’t because I completely crashed and burned. I learned a lot, about my passions, what I was good at, that I had a voice, that I had things I disagreed with, people I disagreed with.

I recognize now what that season was in the midst of it all.

So, why do I bring this all up 10 years later?

Because, my friends, burnout is a bitch.

I am so apprehensive to be technically a “millennial” (I’m a different type of millennial because of when I was born in the 80s but like we won’t get into that) who is writing about being burned out.

I am apprehensive to be writing about being burned out as a person from a culture who is supposed to be “full in Christ”.

The reason I wanted to talk about being burned out wasn’t to get pity or 15 comments to take care of myself or that I “can’t pour from an empty cup” (sorry not sorry friends, I can and I do).

But it’s to tell you this:

Burnout will steal and take your joy. Even if you have a little joy in what you do or who you are, it will squelch it. Burnout will make you feel crazy. And you aren’t less than because of it.

This weekend I volunteered here and there at a conference at my church. When I got in my friend Patrick’s car when I got off work on Friday I was exhausted and numb. The absolute last thing I wanted to be doing was getting in a car with Patrick going to church to volunteer.

But I said I would so I did. (I’m a 2 on the enneagram just FYI)

A part of what I was doing on Friday was speaking out what wholeness is to me with some of my talented words friends.

When I wrote my simple sentence out about wholeness I showed it to my friend Romay. And then she responded with telling me she hoped no one ever tried to change me, that no institution tried to change me.

And I held it in. I held it in through actually saying the words on a microphone, I held it in until I got to Shawn and Victoria’s house and I looked at Victoria and she hugged me and I cried.

Not a lot, because no one as time for that. But a moment of tears and the realization that I am closer to the edge than I thought I was.

A moment of tears and a realization that it doesn’t make me weak or lazy or stupid to be burned out.

I had a moment of tears and realization that burnout is taking from me.

Burnout takes from you.

It takes pieces and you don’t know they’re gone until you search.

Being burned out causes you to question who you are and what you are doing and why you are doing it.

And if you are feeling burned out I want you to know YOU ARE NOT CRAZY.

You are not less than.

You can still be moving forward.

And there is still hope.

(I need you to know how hard that sentence was for me to write.)

That’s all I really wanted to get across.

Being burned out doesn’t always look the same.

It can still be showing up for your damn life because people need you and you need people.

It can be going until you collapse on Friday.

And if you just scrolled to the bottom of this because you didn’t want to read the whole thing:

Dear burnout,

You are not a badge of honor, even when the world and workplaces tell us you are.

You are not a badge of honor even when we choose to wear you like one.

You are not needed.

And you are taking pieces of us we didn’t give you.

You come because we expect more of ourselves than we have to give.

And yet we give it anyway because maybe someone or something needs what we have more than we do.

But, burnout, you will not win.

We will not let you.

We will take back what you have stolen.

We will regain pieces we have lost.

We will be whole.

We will keep moving forward.

We will find hope.

Peace.

Laughter.

Life.

Dear burnout,

You are a bitch and you will not win.

Sincerely,

Us

{if you are on the verge of burnout or are already there I’d love to hear your story. My Instagram and twitter handles are both @megmagnolia )

it takes a village, preschool, tiny human teacher

Don’t call it daycare

I’ve had a lot of rants in my head the last couple weeks. Numerous really. They range from personal, to things I shouldn’t have opinions about but do, to the thing I spend most of thought life on: work.

In the last few weeks I’ve been told that I’m not a real teacher and “oh, so a glorified nanny”.

So, I thought for anyone out there who’s ever wondered what the day of an early learning lead teacher looks like I thought I’d give you a (basic) day in the life of. My days look routinely different but all still the same, basic form.

And I wanted to write this out to the best of my ability for a lot of reasons, but one main one being this: I am a teacher. My teaching looks different then an elementary or high school teacher. At the Y I’m not only helping kids learn their numbers and color and letters but I am help them learn to listen to their bodies, to calm them down, to understand what they need. I’m helping them interact with their friends and be in community.

Just because the kiddos we teach are birth to five does not mean we are not teachers.

What I do, what we do, is so important.

So, without further ado:

A day in the life of Teacher Meg:

And while reading the following schedule remembering I am also doing the following during this entire day: constantly counting children, constantly talking to children, about every 5-10 minutes going up to a pair of kiddos and helping them talk out a conversation or a squabble, snuggling a sad friend, talking to at least two kids about listening to their bodies or helping wipe a nose, seeing something every five minutes that I need to document for assessment, note for a parent, add or change for early achievers or write on my “I need” list in the office. (All while hearing teacher meeeeegggggggg from across the room every two mi

6:30-7:15: clock in, turn on lights, alternate between filling spray bottles, setting up classroom with activities, writing about our day, filling out daily paperwork probably with kids in the room.

7:15-8:15: greet kiddos, talk to parents, help kiddos say bye, write notes on clipboard for my other staff in the room, maybe change a potty training accident or two, read at least three books, change the activities from an art to math activity, document said math activity for assessment, field at least four phone calls, talk two tiny humans through an argument over who was wearing the necklace first, three step the tables, monitor the tiny human sweeping up the sand and the one counting spoons for breakfast, snap a couple pictures to enter documentation for later.

8:10: give a clean up warning.

8:15: Michelle comes in, I ring the clean up bell.

8:16: ring the bell again and help the now 10 kids put baskets away.

8:20: Excuse kids to gathering time loft so breakfast can get set out.

8:22: Sing for the first of many times

“How many friends are here today, here to learn, here to play?

How many friends are here today, put up your hand I can count you”

8:25: greet our 11th friend and give them a job so they feel less sad.

8:30 send quiet friends down for breakfast to wash their hands

8:30-9:00: breakfast. Help clean up spilled milk, get more breakfast, run in and out of the storage closet to continue to get activities ready for the day. Give snuggles to our 12th and 13th kiddo, help friends clean up breakfast, make a note about so and so pouring milk, take the break schedule and make additions to it, write out a nap chart and reports for the day all while continuing to explain to tiny human why putting our spoon in our milk makes it tip.

9:00 Mercedes comes in, give her the fastest run down of the day while helping Michelle clean the kitchen so we can put out table activities. Legos, scissor cutting and sorting are where it’s at.

9:05 attempt to leave the room on my break, stop to give a hug and help someone put on their shoes. (All while Michelle is doing dishes with a half turn to the classroom and Mercedes is sending kiddos to the bathroom)

9:07: get out the back door, mobile order, go to Starbucks and then speed walk up to the annex to grab a book and some vanilla for a baking project.

9:20: go back in the classroom, stick my coffee in the fridge and remember I forgot to go to the bathroom, it’s fine I’ll do it later. Give a clean up warning. Say hi to our 14th and 15th kiddos.

9:20-9:30: get out all of the ingredients and automatically have 8 tiny humans pulling up chairs to watch me measure out ingredients. Remind them have to clean up their areas. They go back reluctantly after I tell them I will wait.

9:30: measure out ingredients showing the different tools we use and set them on the counter.

9:35 ring the clean up bell.

9:37 ring it again.

9:38-9:45: alternate between helping clean up and sending kiddos who have cleaned up to wait on the rug.

9:45-10:05: gathering time upstairs. Count our friends, get out wiggles, move back to the rug, stand up and help a friend go back to the rug all while downstairs is getting set up for our cooking activity. Build our recipe on a white board. Talk about our families. Take deep breathes to calm our body.

10:05-10:10: send kiddos back downstairs to wash hands and find their name at the tables.

10:10-10:25: make cookies. This process involves talking about numbers as ingredients and what makes reactions, and yes you will get a turn and and I need you to wash your hands again and no you can only have three chocolate chips right now. All of this gets documented and pictures are taken for our parent Facebook and for my notes.

10:25-10:30: send kiddos to wash hands again and pick an area to play in.

10:30-11:15: while I roll cookies: three kids sit with me and we talk about what we out in the cookies and how long they will take to bake. Some more kiddos help unload the dishwasher and count forks. From across the room I see two tiny humans organize food in a tray to serve in their restaurant and three who are parking in their parking lot according to where they live. I snap some pictures and make a note in my brain. I maybe answer a couple phone calls, one from a parent who is picking up early, so I make a note to write their daily report out. Also during this time sending kids to put shoes and socks on.

(11:05: put cookies in the oven so they can eat them outside)

11:10 give a clean up warning.

11:15-11:25 clean up, get jackets on, line up, grab cookies and head outside.

11:30-12:00 while the kids are running and playing outside I set up beds, lunch and if I have a few spare moments work on uploading assessments, working on the classroom or writing reports. And also run to the bathroom.

12:00-12:15 transition kids back, read a story while lunch gets put out, send the friends who have wiggles down to help. Inside serve lunch, try to sit for a minute or two to talk to kiddos about their favorite parts of the day.

12:15-12:45 my lunch (I’m getting better at not doing anything during this time, but sometimes I upload photos, go get ideas about kiddos and behavior, write reports, scroll Pinterest and preschool Facebook groups for ideas and also finish the coffee I haven’t drank since 9:30)

12:45-1:45: during this time it’s simultaneously putting kids to sleep, talking about why we need sleep, giving quiet activities to awake kids, cleaning the kitchen, doing the lunch dishes, writing reports, making notes for my closer, for myself and trying to time things so that when I take my ten I can leave the room quickly.

1:45-1:55 ten minute break: finish reports, sort photos for the day, laugh with Michelle about something that was absurd and take a deep breath.

1:55-2:45: set out quiet activities on the tables, unload dishwasher, finish paperwork, invite kiddos to do quiet activities, change white board message, set out bin on beds for clean-up, sit with the kiddos for a few moments make some notes about counting and letter recognition.

2:45 turn lights on, wash tables as all the kids wake up and take off sheets, send them to put on shoes and take off pull-ups. Write down all wake up times and special notes to parents on daily reports.

2:55-3:10 set out snack, touch base with my closer, say bye three times, grab ipad and reports to take to the office.

3:11: inevitably forget something in my classroom, go back and get it, say bye again.

3:12-3:30: sit in the office and finish uploading photos on Facebook and putting pictures in folders. Make copies of a note I wrote to a parent, tell a funny story about my day.

3:40 go home.

That’s it.

For over ten years give or take I’ve been teaching tiny humans. No, I don’t have a degree in it but I have loads training and tons of experience.

I can mostly say I’m really good at my job, but almost every day I leave with the ability that I could have done more, sat more, taught more. My day looks like a lot of transitions and daily activities but so much learning is happening. Language and math and science and social emotional development. Friendships and community dynamics. I’ve watched kids go from tiny 1 years olds to kids getting easy for kindergarten and my preschooler were ones I snuggled in the baby room.

I’ve spent a better part of my life helping tiny humans learn to be good humans.

So for all those reasons (and so many more):

I beg, implore, ask: please remember that early learning all the way from infants to kids going to kindergarten is so important. The teachers care more than you know and do more than you would ever see.

So please, please;

Don’t call it daycare.

it takes a village, preschool, tiny human teacher

a letter from your teacher

To my tiny humans,

It’s been awhile since I’ve written you a letter, been awhile since I’ve sat back and thought about all of you over the past 11 years.

It’s a little overwhelming.

I’m on the brink of a very busy season in regards to being a teacher. Deadlines and ratings and holidays and getting everything just right. If I’m being honest I am a little stressed.

Right now though, in my writing nook in my room, I can see the class pictures from the last two years at the Y and those tiny humans make me think of the ones at Lighthouse and Newport Mesa. They make me think of barefooted Mozambican tiny humans and Ecuadorian tiny humans in school uniforms.

I’ve gone through a lot in my 11 years working with you guys. I’ve been a teacher, a mentor, an administrator, a leader, a pastor, a coordinator. I’ve learned a lot, laughed a lot, cleaned up poop a lot (tiny, adult and cat) and I have cried a lot.

I don’t know if you guys realize this but you guys aren’t always easy.

And I have to be real I’ve wanted to walk away A LOT. I did actually. I remember sitting across the table from a mentor in Spain and saying the last thing I wanted to do when I moved to Bellingham was work with kids.

But sweet kiddos, I want you to know you’ve been worth it and you are worth it.

I didn’t plan on being a teacher.

And honestly I still don’t think this is forever.

But every single one of the tiny humans I’ve had, some now in their late teens, have been worth it.

And I’ve learned something from each group, honestly each tiny human, I’ve had. I’ve learned about myself, I’ve learned my strengths, my weaknesses. I’ve learned my limits and I’ve learned that I frequently push the boundaries of said limits.

You’ve inspired me.

You’ve inspired me to think differently and see humans for who they are. You’ve inspired me to see things for what they will become, not just what they are.

You’ve reminded me frequently just to sit and play legos.

You’ve reminded me to laugh, to breathe.

And in the moment; with the tiny humans when they are tiny, that’s really hard to communicate. I tell my tiny humans I love them, give them hugs, wipe their tears, give them comfort.

But it’s really hard to tell them that they are worth it. That the reason I come back to my classroom day after day is because of them.

I was having a conversation with Rachel tonight. Rachel is a mom of one of my preschoolers 8 years ago. She frequently reminds me what I meant to her sons learning. I am grateful for the ability to see her amazingly wonderful not-so-tiny-humans grow.

And she reminded me tonight that I do do what I do for the tiny humans, because I myself have had teachers that have greatly impacted me.

But, I don’t think teachers always a get a chance to tell their students, mine being mainly tiny humans, that it’s them, at the end of the day, that bring us back the next day.

So, if you are a parent of now not-so-tiny-human of mine, remind your kiddos that Miss Meghan or Miss Meg or Sox or Teacher Meg believes in them even still. That I cheer them on when I see their victories, that I feel old as they climb higher into double digits.

Remind them they have yet another person in their corner who thinks they are worth it. That they have all the gifts and talents and abilities to the damn thing in life. Well, you can choose your own language for that statement ❤️.

And if you have the ability to thank a teacher do so. Because there is a really good chance they want to thank you too.

With love,

Miss Teacher Meghan Meg Sox

Honest, tiny human teacher

Why peace is like potty training

I was having a text conversation with one my favorite people to converse with via text, my boss/friend Jamie. She, on a daily basis, reminds me that it’s ok not to be ok, it’s ok to ask for help and that I do in fact know what I am doing.

Tonight we were talking about peace.

One of the best pieces of wisdom I’ve received was either from Betsy or Tiffany (why not both) and it was this “follow your peace”. It’s something that gets referenced frequently in my house between Patty and I.

I know what my “peace” feels like. It’s not clean or neat, it doesn’t always evoke peace honestly, but it’s like a compass. My peace points me north. It’s not necessarily based in my faith, some days it is, lately I don’t know if it is.

In this conversation today, I said that finding and following your peace was kind of like potty training.

Explaining to a tiny human what it feels like to need to go to the bathroom is practically impossible. I am of the philosophy that enough accidents and they will figure it out. And once they do, it’s mostly their choice whether or not they listen to their body or just keep playing with the magnet tiles.

But, in that illustration, I realized something: growing up, my body didn’t give me enough warnings that I needed to go to the bathroom. I was on different bladder control medications and wet the bed well into my teens and took said medication for it until my senior year in college. I saw three different urologists as a very young child and had to have procedures and tests done that were not fun in any way, shape or form as a little girl.

I never wanted to sleep over at friend’s houses, not because I was scared of being away from home, but because I was terrified of wetting the bed. I felt shamed multiple times in elementary school when I asked for the bathroom pass and my favorite teachers in junior high and high school were the ones who didn’t make you ask to go to the bathroom.

I felt so incredibly far from normal.

My body never gave me clues. I had to really, really listening to my body as a child before I even knew what that meant. I had to make up my own clues.

And I sit here, shuttering a little from reliving some of those memories, I wonder if right now I am in a season where peace and the ability to follow my peace is a little hazy.

Maybe there isn’t supposed to be peace to follow because we need to fight for it a little bit more.

But, what I do know, is that just like I had to make up my cues for something that was already inside me, I know that the peace is already inside me. That I have a compass, that I’m doing something right, that peace isn’t easy, but it’s probably already there. My peace reminds me to stay, to dig in, to believe, to walk into the mess.

Dear human reading this,

The world outside kind of sucks right now, peace feels fleeting on many different levels. But I want you to know, as cliche as it sounds, you have peace inside of you. It might be old peace, peace you fought for in a story that feels lifetimes ago. It might be borrowed peace, because things don’t make sense, but you need something to grab onto.

You have peace inside of you, I promise. You might call it by a different name, but it’s there.

And it’s needed.

This week, I am going to do my best to remember I have peace inside of me. And if you need the reminder yourself, shoot me a message because I got your back.

Meg

PS. With all that’s going on around us, with the hate, and what seems like the inability to be kind, I also want you to remember this that just like potty training:

Peace is not still.

Peace is not passive.

Peace demands movement.

(And hopefully not like potty training)

Peace can very much be loud.

So, let us be loud as we pass our peace to those who need it.

Honest, it takes a village, tiny human teacher

fall is coming

Here is the thing: Right now, in this moment, I am choosing to have hope for fall.

Not just for myself but on behalf of those around me.

We all need some hope after a summer of drought and I’m going to find it for us.

When we were kids, the physical seasons meant more.

We waited for summer break, fall meant seeing friends again and the thrill or terror of a new school year. Winter meant Christmas and break. Spring brought sports and school plays and the rounding out of the school year.

And then summer came once more.

Life was built around the actual seasons and it worked. We knew when one thing would end and another begin.

But in adulthood, seasons mean something different.

The ever lovely full of wisdom teacher Victoria has one of my favorite illustrations and reminders to me in regards to tiny humans.

Victoria’s tiny humans are 12-24 months. When they experience things like teething or a diaper rash or a sickness they can’t verbally explain, she likes to remind the other teachers in her classroom of this when a tiny human is incapable of being consoled (the following is as direct of a quote as I could remember)

“They don’t know what’s happening and they don’t know if the pain is ever going to end. All they know is it’s happening now and this is how life is now. They’ve only been around for so many months, so like, this must be how it is now.”

New tiny humans don’t know about seasons, they don’t know the pain is going to go away. They probably think this is just how it is.

And that sucks.

I’ve realized that there are things in my life, seasons in my life that have felt so permanent that I feel that same way.

“This must be how it is now”

And that sucks.

Have you ever thought that? Like you don’t know if something in your life is ever going to end. It just showed up, you don’t know where it came from, but that must be how it’s going to be.

It’s very defeating.

And that’s why, to the best of my ability and strength I am going to fight for hope for myself and on behalf of others.

I’m going to decide that the changing of seasons does change something.

That is does mean something.

Just like when we were kids.

The fall can once again mean something new. Something fresh. Another chapter.

I believe beyond a shadow of a doubt we have the ability to turn our own pages. We can choose to say “all done friends” to something, someone, somewhere.

So, to you my sweet friend reading this, whether or not I’ve ever met you, I want to remind you of something.

This is not how it’s going to be forever.

This is not how your life is now.

This is not a new appendage you have to carry.

This will end.

You can turn the page.

Fall is coming.

Honest, it takes a village, preschool, tiny human teacher

shame less

I do not like shame.

I wrote a piece awhile back entitled “I met shame in the sixth grade”. It was talking of the moment that shame came into my life. The moment that I can use as a dividing line from being enough/not being enough.

I think that before that I knew shame. I knew that it affected me.

I was told that words could never hurt me, but in reality words have had a more profound effect on my life than any physical thing that has happened to me.

So yes, I do not like shame.

I mean, that should be pretty standard right? But, did you know that you probably have shaming language spoken to you or that you in fact use it yourself?

Think of this scenario. You, as an adult, are giving a report at work. And in the middle of a sentence your boss gets up and says “no, no, no” and proceeds to “correct” you on what you were speaking on.

How do you think you would feel? Being told by a superior in front of a group of your peers “no, you are doing that wrong”.

You would probably feel ashamed.

Now, picture being in grade school and that happening.

Do you think you’d ever want to do a presentation in class again?

What if, you were at camp and you were talking to your counselor and someone from the stage pointing you out to stop talking before they started again-but you had been telling your counselor you weren’t feeling good?

Now, picture being a kindergartener.

It’s your birthday and you are coloring a bird blue.

The person next to you raises her hand and tattles on you.

And then the teacher makes you start again because “no, the bird can’t be blue” and precedes to take your paper and give you a new one.

I know you are probably wondering where I am going with this.

Am I talking about living a life of participation trophies?

That’s not it at all.

I’m talking about choosing our words more wisely.

More specifically, I am talking about doing our best to take shaming language out of our vocabulary, specifically around the tiny humans and kids that we are around.

Shaming language is telling a child they are “too big” to be somewhere when what you are actually trying to tell them is that they are growing up. Reprimanding them from across the room instead of kneeling to their level.

Shaming language is talking about a child’s poor choices in front of them, like they aren’t there, even though they can 100% understand what’s happening. Shaming language is telling a child “they should know better” or “how could you be so dum

A lot of us, be it teachers or parents or people that interact with kids on a daily basis, grew up in a generation where I don’t believe we truly knew the effects constant amounts of shame had on a child.

And now, as an adult, I think we are learning. I myself, am still learning each day, with how I communicate and speak to the tiny humans around me.

We are learning, that the effects of using shame as a tactic isn’t helpful. It causes kids to shut down. To stop talking, stop participating, and attempting to not take up space.

Shame that was present in my life as a small child is what lead me to shut down and what lead me to do my best not to take up space.

And lastly, before you even go there, I know that children are resilient.

Trust me, I know.

(Maybe, like don’t get into this with me, because I have strong words about kids and resiliency)

But, shouldn’t we, as caregivers, parents, kind humans, do all we can to not shame the kiddos in our space? Shouldn’t we build them up and give them the tools to counteract shame instead of putting shame on them causing them to have to find the tools on their own?

There are enough times when we will screw up, or when other adults around or even other kids will put shame upon the kids in our life. Where they will feel belittled or left behind or left out.

There are so many situations that we have no control over in our kids lives.

But, we can control our own bodies. We can control our own words and reactions.

And think of the generation of kids we would be raising and helping to raise if we ourselves realized that our words had weight in someone else’s life

if we raised a generation of kids that had a first response of positivity and not negativity.

What if we just did our best to not be the reason our kids learned resiliency?

And what if, when we found ourselves saying things that don’t settle we choose to be people who explained ourselves instead of just letting it go.

What do you think that might do?

Well, personally?

I think it just might change the world.